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Consider Your Utility’s PR Plan for the Last Six Weeks of 2020

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Andy Gotlieb's picture
Managing Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner Freelancer

I hold 32 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too. The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various...

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Most people will be happy for obvious reasons for 2020 to end and for 2021 to be a better year, but six weeks remain of this year, so your utility should make the most of them.

The last few weeks of any year tend to be tricky because of the holiday season, and the pandemic’s impact will only add to the potential disarray.

That said, this is potentially a time for your utility to garner some positive publicity.

Given the number of people likely staying home, there may well be an influx of people decorating their homes with decorations and lights. Any kind of contest you run to find the best lighting display is likely to attract the attention of your local TV news stations. And don’t forget to spruce up your evergreen releases about how holiday lights aren’t going to increase their utility bills too much (barring over-the-top displays).

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With hurricane season ending shortly, bad winter weather will be on the way soon, so publicize how you plan to deal with it. Detail any new measures you’ve put in place and talk about the lessons learned during prior winters. Reassuring the public is paramount these days.

A year-end roundup of your utility’s achievements is a good idea, too. It may not get much coverage from your major local outlets, but the smaller outlets are always looking for content, and you can promote your good news on your website and social media. You’ve surely done some good things this year, so may as well promote them.

If bad news does rear its ugly head in the final few weeks, obviously you can’t ignore it. Your best bet is to take the “Band-Aid” removal approach – rip it right off, deal with the pain and then move on. Unless your bad news is of the crippling variety, the hectic nature of the holiday season will likely prompt the media to report it, then move on.

Do note that during the holiday season, the media is often more short-staffed than normal, as plenty of journalists (like everyone else) take vacation time. That means if you have a go-to person at a specific outlet, you might have to work with someone else. That shouldn’t be a big deal, but keep it in mind.

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